Speaker dinner – Mary Portas 22 October 2013
Widely recognized as one of the UK's foremost authorities on retail and brand communication, Mary Portas has a multitude of expertise; business woman, advertising executive, retail expert, Government adviser, broadcaster and consumer champion.
Beginning her retail career in John Lewis, Boots, Harrods and Topshop, she joined Harvey Nichols, progressing to the Board as Creative Director in 1989. She was credited with leading its transformation into a world renowned fashion store.
In 1997 Mary left Harvey Nichols to launch an agency, Yellowdoor, which has made its mark in the creative advertising landscape, producing category challenging campaigns and championing brand development for clients including Clarks, Louis Vuitton, Oasis, Swarovski, Dunhill, Boden, Thomas Pink, Patek Philippe and Mercedes-Benz. In January 2013 she re-launched her agency with a new name and brand: Portas. The agency works across the whole retail landscape offering creative communications, marketing and advertising solutions firmly rooted in insight on how consumers behave today.
Alongside her work with the agency, Mary has embarked on a number of personal projects. She has published two books, Windows: The Art of Retail Display, and How to Shop and developed a series of master classes on successful retailing.
Inspired by her weekly 'Shop!' column in the Telegraph Magazine, Mary began her television career in 2007 when her efforts to rescue failing independent boutiques were documented by the BBC2 series Mary Queen of Shops. Her subsequent TV documentaries have followed her creating a new retail format for charity shops, champion British manufacturing by reopening a knickers factory near Manchester and her challenge to create a successful clothing line for women, not girls.
Mary's continued advocacy of our High Streets led to her receiving a commission from the British Government to lead an independent review. She delivered her report on the future of our High Streets to the Prime Minister, in December 2011. The Portas Review outlined 28 recommendations to rescue failing High Streets. The Government, retailers and the public supported her plan, and Mary's work has been a catalyst for community regeneration, and the re-visioning of high streets across the country. She continues to press Government for the key policy change required, as identified in her review.